The Trinity of Values

On my Facebook group page, The Alternative Christian, I conducted a three-day experiment asking participants to respond to the topics you see below. The statements represent a compilation of their answers.

My purpose for doing this is to demonstrate that this core set of values represents the basis of our understanding of all topics of a spiritual nature. For example, someone can say, “I believe in prayer.” What does that mean? How you view prayer is influenced by your understanding of these three core values. If you think of God as the old man in the sky, your understanding of prayer will be different from one who sees God as an indwelling, accessible presence. Likewise, your view of Jesus, of the Bible, of healing, of prosperity and so forth begins with this trinity of values. Understand their core values and you’ll understand why some are aggressively trying to save souls while others accept that the awakening to the inner presence of God is their salvation. You’ll understand why some are waiting for the Second Coming while others see it as an inner awakening to their own Christ potential. You’ll get why some see the Bible as God’s primary way of communicating with people, while others see the Word of God as that inner living flame of the soul.

I would recommend this exercise for anyone, to take a meditative approach to answering these three questions: What is my understanding of the nature of God? What is my understanding of the nature of the individual? What is my understanding of the relationship between God and the individual?

If you’re interested in becoming a part of The Alternative Christian, make sure you have a Facebook account then click the link and request membership in the group.

The Nature of God
God, the one power of the universe (omnipotent), is greater than all but accessible to all, organic and uniquely personal. Centered in the silent core, that holy void within every person, God is expressed through each living thing as the all-encompassing, healing energy, the pure, infinite, eternal source of unconditional life, love, power and intelligence. God is the object of all that we seek, the awe-inspiring joy, the creative life-force in whom all things live and move and have their being.

The Nature of the Individual
The individual is a unique expression of the creative life force that is God, a spiritual being expressing consciousness through a physical body, a thought in the mind of God, unlimited, free willed, endowed with the capacity to respond to God, to think, to feel, to demonstrate Christ-like love, to observe and live in God’s beauty in accordance with the divine laws of the universe.

The Nature of the Relationship Between God and the Individual
The omnipresence of God, in whom we live and move and have our being, is centered in every individual as the soul. God and the individual are in an unconditional, absolute relationship of oneness. We develop our relationship to God through the practice of meditation.

Announcement

I have started a closed Facebook group called The Alternative Christian. If you have a Facebook account and are interested in becoming part of this group, let me know with a comment to this post and I’ll send you an invitation. Here is the basic premise for the group:

The Alternative Christian is for those who resonate with a Christian-based message beyond the mainstream but not so far as the woo-woo New Age approach.

The first question I have posed is this: What is your understanding of the nature of God?

21 people signed up yesterday and today and I look forward to hearing from many more of you.

Blessings, JDB

The Mystical Thread

YouTube: The Mystical Thread

Audio: The Mystical Thread

As we’ve seen, the Gospels carry two messages: one is the developing doctrine of the early church, the other is what we’re considering the mystical thread that runs through the teachings of Jesus. How do we recognize this thread? We look for ideas that are consistent, not with early church doctrine, but with the principles of mysticism. These principles will always include references to 1) the omnipotence God, 2) the divinity of the individual, and 3) the relationship of oneness between God and the individual. In some verses these ideas are evident while others will require some thoughtful consideration before they yield their hidden treasure.

Jesus made references to God caring for sparrows, lilies of the field and birds of the air in general. He assured his listeners that God, their heavenly Father, would take care of them as well. We can picture how this happens with a favorite illustration of mine. We mow our lawn and a healing intelligence is there to respond to each individual blade of grass. If every lawn on the planet is cut at the same time, this non-depletable presence responds just as quickly and just as certainly.

We see the first element in our trinity of principles as the grass immersed in the omnipotence of God. The healing power is dispersed everywhere, equally at the same time. The second element presents as this power fully involved in every single blade, meaning the whole of the healing power is intimately involved, down to the cellular level. We see the third element in the fact that all the grass is one with this healing energy, no begging for its help required.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30).

There isn’t room here to cover all the instances of how the teachings of Jesus rest on this powerful trinity of principles. We will continue to explore specific passages in the weeks ahead. The important thing is to be able to identify this mystical thread as a key assurance that God is truly a present and responsive help in our times of uncertainty and need.

The Silence

[Note: I was absent Sunday due to a minor surgery, which was a success. I want to thank Elaine Lawrie-Foss, a lifetime Unity student, for speaking in my place. JDB]

Youtube: The Silence (audio only)

Audio: The Silence

Excerpt from The Silence, by E.V. Ingraham

The moment it dawns upon you that the first sense of stillness that you feel as you practice the silence is the actual presence of God, that moment you have passed into the realm “beyond the silence,” for then there comes to you a conscious revelation of one of the outstanding characteristics of God Himself. But back of the silent nature of God lie all the numberless phases and degrees of Him who is all.  The silence then becomes the locus (place in consciousness) for receiving the inspiration of the Almighty that gives understanding; the locus where the Spirit of truth becomes the only teacher, where man gains knowledge of the Infinite at first hand.  Silence ceases to be mere stillness, and becomes the unfolding presence of Divinity itself.  At this moment you have literally touched the hem of His garment, and the complete reconstruction of your nature begins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mystical Union

YouTube: The Mystical Union

Audio: The Mystical Union

“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6).

How we understand Jesus’ kingdom of God is our key to understanding the mystical thread running through his teachings. Is this kingdom a biblically prophesied day of judgment, complete with major destruction, wailing and gnashing of teeth? Or is it a quiet spiritual awakening that is born and grows through our consciousness from the innermost recesses of the soul? It is clear from the overall message of the New Testament that the early Christian community couched it in apocalyptic terms. But when we lift the sayings of Jesus from this evangelical narrative, we find another, inner-directed message more closely associated with the mystical thread.

Jesus often speaks in contrasting terms. He uses things like good and bad fish, wheat and tares, wide and narrow gates, old and new wine, houses built on rock and sand, man and woman, to name a few. We get the most from these illustrations when we see them, not as references to believers and sinners, but as contrasting types of consciousness. One is the surface, senses-based understanding, the wide gate that most rely on to navigate through their world. The other is a consciousness built upon the bedrock of the soul, the narrow gate that relatively few discover. This is the heart of the gospel of Jesus for it not only establishes our relationship with God, it gives us a practical spiritual base from which to weather life’s storms.

Matthew obviously used this passage simply as commentary on the institution of marriage. The deeper meaning addresses the need for unity between the intellect (man) and the intuition (woman). Rather than think of ourselves as a human being seeking a spiritual experience, we correctly understand ourselves as a spiritual being having a human experience. From this spiritual foundation, the intellect and the intuition act in unison, the soul inspired intuition providing the primary insight. We are no longer two but one flesh, our head and our heart joined in spiritual matrimony.

This is an appropriate message for today. Our intellectually driven science sees the soul as little more than a neurological process, an unnecessary curiosity. The towering intellect has effectively divorced this intuitive counterpart for that singing siren of technology.

We know that civilizations grow or fall on the same principle: from the inside out. It’s what we grasp as our center that determines which direction we go. Through all time, this mystical union that God has joined together is truly a marriage that no culture can afford to put asunder.

Get Real, You’ll Feel Better

“We have already seen that the kingdom is within all of us. … Those who do enter the kingdom are those who have come to recognize the reality of the inner world and to respond to its demands upon them for consciousness. This must always be an individual act of recognition; it cannot be accomplished so long as we are identified with a group. Yet most of us find our sense of identity only in our membership in the Church, the nation, the political party, or the gang on the street corner.” (John A. Sanford, The Kingdom Within)

A friend recently gave me a copy of Sanford’s book, whom I quickly recognized as a kindred spirit. This was a pleasant surprise considering he was an Episcopal priest and I was ordained in Unity. I severed my ties with Unity, in part for my perception of the organization’s move away from focus on the individual awakening to its not so thinly disguised move toward social activism. I entered the movement when it could be summed up in Emerson’s statement: Every man is the inlet and may become the outlet of all there is in God. I left it summarizing itself something like this: As individuals we are strong, but as a group we are powerful. The first advocated finding one’s center of power in God. The second has shifted to finding one’s center of power in the group.

Though I was somewhat saddened and initially resistant to this change, I have let things take their course. The principle of individuality will never change with the times. The distractions of those re-created dreams of achieving that ever-elusive Utopian collective that promises equal power to all does nothing to alter our natural spiritual architecture, or our yearning to return to it.

The individual is forever the inlet and may become the outlet to all there is in God. There will always be that minority of people who understand that the soul rises from the Infinite. They will seek the group, but not for empowerment. They seek it for the thrill and satisfaction of knowing they are not alone, not aliens dropped here from another planet, but healthy human beings who refuse to lose touch with the cosmic heart that makes them tick. Encountering a kindred spirit deepens our resolve to go even deeper, does it not?

The spiritual journey is one each person must make alone. Though we are witnessing a major attempt worldwide to do so, we cannot ride in on the coattails of any group. The soul’s authenticity does not permit it. With the advent of social media, the pressure to conform may seem  stronger now than ever before. Under the pretense of progress, the scramble to acquire whatever it takes to join is causing the erosion of basic values on an unprecedented scale. How far we can wade into this shallow muck of conformity remains to be seen, but I sense many are getting weary of the slog.

The wide gate of conformity is always open, but so is the narrow gate of individuality. If I were given the choice between being the gatekeeper of one or the other, I would choose the narrow gate. True, there are no bustling crowds of chattering people to keep us entertained. But the ones who do come through are real. My favorite people have always been the real ones.

I think John Sanford was a real person. I was going to email him until I realized he passed in 2005. I have a genuine appreciation for people like him who devoted his energy to a book about the importance of being real. This was his take away from the teachings of Jesus. And, it’s certainly mine.

Finding Your Center of Power

Youtube: Finding Your Center of Power

Audio: Finding Your Center of Power

The Alternative Christian Series

Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:22-24).

Last week we focused on the parable of the prodigal son, which is all about coming home. Coming home is a return to your center of power, a key element of the mystical thread that we’re considering as the Gospel of Jesus.

How do we find our center of power? Jesus says to have faith in God. That is, draw your attention away from that mountainous problem that looms before you and recommit to turning your faith in God.

A story found in 2 Chronicles really drives this home with a practical how-to. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, is informed that many of Judah’s enemies have formed an alliance and are coming to attack. Jehoshaphat responds in fear, but he vows to “seek the Lord” and calls for a national fast. Addressing the Lord, he says, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” Then the Lord spoke through the prophet Jahaziel. “You will not need to fight in this battle. Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.

The recognition that the battle was not theirs but God’s indicates they had found their center of power. Jehoshaphat then orders singers to go before them singing praises. In the end, the forces arrayed against Judah began to fight amongst themselves and they destroyed one another.

God within is our center of power, the source of our strength. If we are drawing our strength from what we have rather than from who we are, we may discover that we don’t have what it takes to win the battle.

When Jesus says, “…and does not doubt in his heart,” he is echoing Jehoshaphat’s, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” In other words, both are describing a very definite shift in focus. How will the mountain be cast to the sea? How will the army be defeated? We don’t know. We only know that our eyes are upon thee. Our faith is in God.

This is the homecoming, the return to our center of power. Problems come in the form of mountains and great armies that seem poised to destroy our peace. Return to your home, your center of power by reaffirming your faith in God, the absolute good working through your life right now.